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Should Nets be interested in Gorgui Dieng if he’s bought out?

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Memphis Grizzlies v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Every Nets fan knows the list of buyout candidates Sean Marks might want to sign following next Thursday’s trade deadline. There’s Andre Drummond and J.J. Redick and LaMarcus Aldridge and P.J. Tucker. All of them are more likely to be bought out than traded.

And the Nets have not been shy about saying the buy-out market is why they’ve remained flexible. As of Wednesday, they have two open roster spots. No team has more.

Now, Alex Schiffer and John Hollinger of The Athletic suggest another name, a big man, might be available: Gorgui Dieng, the Grizzlies’ little-used 6’11” stretch-4. Dieng, 31, makes $17.7 million this season, an expiring deal. Hollinger thinks that 1) Dieng could be available and 2) is a better fit for the Nets than the other bigs mentioned as Nets prospects.

Said Hollinger...

I don’t really think Drummond is much of a fit with Brooklyn. He’s not a rim-runner who can play as Harden’s screener, he’s not a floor-spacer and he’s a meh rim protector.

However, one other name below the radar who should really interest the Nets is Gorgui Dieng. He is a good defender, and he can shoot. I think if he gets bought out in Memphis — which is possible given their commitment to second-round pick Xavier Tillman — he should be Brooklyn’s top target. He’ll help a lot more than “names” like Griffin, Aldridge or Drummond.

Schiffer agrees...

Dieng is a good suggestion. I’ve been a fan of his since his Louisville days, and like you said, he gives them a much different look underneath than they have with Jordan.

Indeed, Dieng has been a favorite of some Nets insiders for years. In 22 games this season —one start— the Senegalese big man has averaged 7.9 points and 4.5 rebounds with a shooting line of 54/48/88. The 3-point shooting number is a high when matched with his career numbers, but his range is a lot greater than Drummond’s, for example.

Indeed, several fansites have suggested Dieng as a candidate in the past. The Grizzlies have been trying to off-load him, but an expiring deal that large will be hard to move. Still, the name is out there and, don’t forget, Hollinger worked in the Memphis front office.

Beyond buyout candidates, Hollinger and Schiffer discuss the trade market for Spencer Dinwiddie and wonder if Bruce Brown could be an interesting free agent.

Hollinger, still thinking bigs, suggested that the Nets and Pistons could make another deal, sending out Dinwiddie for Mason Plumlee. Their colleague, Shams Charania, wrote earlier in the week that there have been “whispers” of Nets interest in re-uniting with the 6’11” center. Dinwiddie, of course, is (most likely) out for the season and has a $12.3 million player option next year that he’s likely to pass on. Plumlee is owed $8 million this season, $8.1 million next season and has a partially guaranteed another $8.5 million in 2022-23.

If the Nets wanted to make a big deal, Hollinger said, his first “ask” would be Nicolas Claxton, then the Nets second rounders. They could have four picks in this year’s draft: their own first (the swap with Houston won’t apply); plus the Suns, Hawks and Pacers’ seconds (assuming the Pacers fall out of the playoffs.) They also have their own pick in 2022 and an extra second, the Hawks in 2025.

As for Brown, who is eligible for an extension, Hollinger thinks that if the Nets don’t pull the trigger on him now and he becomes a restricted free agent in August, there could be competition. Then, money may become an issue.

The interesting thing for the Nets going forward is exactly how much cash they’re willing to shoot out the firehose in order to keep this team together. I don’t think there’s any doubt that Brown is a useful, rotation-caliber piece, and his market will likely be somewhere from $5 million to the mid-level exception. That’s not daunting on its own, but when the contracts of the five highest-paid players alone put the team more than $15 million into the tax, the real cost of his deal (and any others) starts racking up really fast.

Indeed, the Chinese government’s increasingly hardline on Alibaba, the main source of Joe Tsai’s wealth, has driven that stock’s value way down in recent months. Tsai, of course, is enormously wealthy, but we may soon see the bounds of his spending habits.